How Much Defense?

The U.S. presently spends 57% of the discretionary budget on the military, a total of $574B (not including the emergency spending of $64.6B). In addition, five other agencies support Defense: FBI and Cybersecurity (in the Justice Department budget), the National Nuclear Security Administration (in the Energy Department’s budget), Homeland Security, the Veterans Administration, and the State Department. They add $175.9 billion in defense costs. These departments add $19.4 billion to the Overseas Contingency Operations. The real cost of U.S. defense is $824.1 billion. All totaled, the U.S., with slightly more than 4% of the world’s population and is one of the best geographically defended countries spends approximately 50% of the world’s total on defense. Compare this with the defense budget of China (second largest in the world) of $216B and Russia (fourth largest in the world) of $66B.

So how much of that is really necessary? What are the real threats to America? Invasion? By whom? The Russians? With a population of 140 million people, invading and occupying the U.S. with a population of 330 million people and separated by two oceans, is not possible. A nuclear war with Russia is unthinkable by all but the totally insane. Defense of Europe, maybe, but Europe has a population of 740 million and while no European power has ever successfully invaded Russia, Russia has never even tried to invade most of Europe and the odds against success are overwhelming. When you look at the real threat to U.S. security, it becomes obvious that we are spending way more on defense than is necessary.

Now you might argue that defense creates jobs. Well, yes it does. But studies have shown that $1 billion in military spending only created 8,555 jobs. On the other hand, the same amount could pay for 19,795 public transportation construction workers or 17,687 teachers. Furthermore, the construction jobs would improve life for many whereas the defense jobs only produce death and destruction and weapons which are later thrown away (if not destroyed in the process). Which is of greater benefit to Americans?

The alternatives to spending so much money on defense are mind boggling. You name it. Healthcare, education, infrastructure, public transportation. Cutting the defense budget in half, we would still spend more on defense than China and Russia combined, create more jobs than are lost, reduce waste, create a better environment for us all and still have all the security we need. It’s a no-brainer.